The Rwandan Tech Incubator’s Top 10 startups

rwandaRwandan tech incubator think has announced their top 10 finalists for the initial intake of the newest incubator in Africa. The top 10 companies were selected from more than 150 applications from across 20 countries, of which 14 were from Africa.

These companies are some of the best new innovators providing digital and technology solutions that have the potential to scale across Africa.

These companies were chosen after submitting an application to think, and those applications were reviewed by the four-member Selection Committee, representing Tigo Rwanda, African Entrepreneur Collective, Millicom Digital Ventures, and leading Rwandan technology experts and entrepreneurs.

In the coming weeks, the think top 10 will pitch to a final investment committee of tech investors, who will select the five companies to induct in the think incubator this October.

The think top 10 include the following early stage companies:

Academic Bridge, Rwanda & Tanzania
Academic Bridge is a digital solution for schools, students, and parents to collect, process, manage student data. Product is under development now in Tanzania.

Beliaa, Egypt
Beliaa is a mobile application for Road Assistance, using GPS Location services, and provides traffic tracking and other transportation information features.

Cribpark, Nigeria
The Cribpark website is a platform for real estate matching, home design, and architecture, and connects homeowners to an array of valuable goods and services.

Empowered Internet, Rwanda
Bringing the internet to rural users via portable, tablet based web cafes, Empowered Internet, uses new technologies to connect the unconnected.

Ensibuuko, Uganda
Ensibuuko is an early stage mobile financing platform for farmers to purchase inputs over the phone, secure loans for these inputs, and links a farmer’s produce to larger markets at harvest.

Jifunza, Rwanda
Jifunza’s signature product is a language learning platform, called Menya, is focused on African languages and crowdsources content from its users.

Mergims, Canada
African expats now have a new way to send remittances through the Mergims web platform & mobile app to connect the African diaspora to African vendors at home.

Nim Street, Ghana
Platform that links African creatives to fans through crowdfunding, and allows donors to remain control by giving in tranches to interesting projects across the continent.

PollAfrique, Ghana
PollAfrique is a web/mobile research platform for Africa, allowing respondents to participate in incentivized surveys via SMS, USSD, IVR, and email.

TorQue, Rwanda
TorQue delivers channel management software for wholesale distributors in beverage and telecom industry, designed to run the entire distribution business.

Great Fridays shores up board with ex-Pearson hire

elephant indoorInnovative product and service design company Great Fridays has appointed Genevieve Shore to its influential advisory board with immediate effect.

Great Fridays advisory board is made up of an illustrious and eclectic mix of experienced Design and Business Leaders including Peter Gabriel (musician, technologist, inventor), Nancy Dickenson (independent design strategy consultant and ex-VP Design at eBay, PayPal, Apple), Peter Skillman from HERE and Josh Ulm (VP of Design at Adobe).

Shore has had an unparalleled career in digital strategy and technology, culminating in the past seven years where she was was CIO and Chief Product Officer for Pearson and responsible for all platforms from the cloud, finance and data systems to content delivery and learning services reaching millions of global students and teachers.

Moreover, at the company Shore had key relationships with behemoths such as Google, Apple and Amazon devising new ways of engaging consumers with digital products such as eBooks, virtual teaching, learning and assessment.

Genevieve is also a former rugby World Champion who was a member of the England rugby team that beat the USA in the final of the 1994 Women’s Rugby World Cup. She now sits on the Rugby Football Union All Schools Board, of which Prince Harry is the Patron and is also a non-executive director for the FTSE-listed company Scottish Television (STV).

“I am delighted to be joining the seminal Great Fridays advisory board at a pivotal time for the company. I am passionate about the use of technology to improve people’s lives and how data can reduce costs, drive engagement and improve results in all companies, be they large and small”, said Shore.

This enthusiasm was replicated by Great Fridays Co-Founder Rob Noble who welcomed Shore to the board: “We are thrilled to have the knowledge, experience and expertise of Genevieve supporting and advising Great Fridays executive and global management team,” he said.

This appointment follows on from Great Fridays recent win with Microsoft’s engineering teams in developing their Transformational Design strategy and vision.

The end of maps as Sat Nav users lose brains

sat_navThe scourge of Sat Nav appears to have rendered drivers clueless and dependent on the technology to arrive at their destination.

According to research by GPS technology specialists Garmin, almost 40% of drivers don’t know how to navigate using a traditional map and a further 16% admit that they are so reliant on a Sat Nav that they use it for regular journeys.

As a driver who loves getting lost and likes to ask for directions because it means I meet PEOPLE in unusual situations and do not reply on a mobile ivory tower to insulate myself from real life, this comes as no surprise.

One thing that remains the same, however. Be it digital or analogue, the report says that arguing over directions remains one of driving’s biggest hazards, with a third of respondents saying that it creates arguments with their partners.

The press release tries to put a spin on this depressing result… ‘Rather than seeing technology as consuming traditional skills like map reading, it should be celebrated for delivering speed, accuracy and safety’.

This is not something I’ve ever seen when Sat Nav drivers pull away, then stop instantly while they fiddle with its controls. It is the devil’s work and is sucking away our brains. Maps are like books, they keep us intelligent, not driverless Google car guinea pigs.

US company acquires African startup Saya

Robert-LampteyOne of the smartest people I’ve met as I’ve built up my African network over the past two years is the charismatic and smart Robert Lamptey.

As CEO and founder of Ghana-based mobile messaging company Saya Mobile, Robert has been an inspiration for many Ghanaians, and Africans for that matter. He is a better coder than anybody who has attempted MIT’s coding challenges and he has built up an excellent company in the last three years.

So it is of great pleasure to announce (somewhat belatedly, been on holiday), Saya’s acquisition by New Jersey company Kirusa, which has acquired the technology, IP and workforce of Saya that will now be working on Kirusa’s mobile applications. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Continue reading

Brandwatch back to the future with Hindsight

brandwatch_hindsightSocial media analytics company Brandwatch has launched Brandwatch Twitter Hindsight, which provides its customers with the ability to retrieve all relevant Tweets since 2006, as well as enjoy continued access to full real-time Twitter data.

While other platforms in the industry only offer up to two years of Twitter data, Hindsight offers access to the full eight years of public Tweets since Twitter’s inception. Continue reading